Today we will explore the impact of Authoritarianism on global warming induced climate change.
Specifically, I want to talk about how toxins of power impair and then impel officials to conduct their official business in a way that is suicidal to themselves, while at the same time being murderous toward their constituencies.
In its modern form, within our technological Petroleum Civilization, the principles are the same as with the many societies down through history that did the same thing ad nauseum:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee, emphasis added). But, there is a difference between long gone historical civilizations and our civilization.
One difference that is germane to today's post is that with all of the power of weapons of mass destruction (e.g. oil derrick), and their power to destroy The Global Climate System, modern Petroleum Civilization has the capacity to utterly destroy itself along with the human species itself:
If the evolution of civilization has such a far reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization——or epochs of it——possibly even the whole of humanity——have become neurotic under the pressure of the civilizing trends? To analytic dissection of these neuroses, therapeutic recommendations might follow which could claim a great practical interest. I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness. But it behooves us to be very careful, not to forget that after all we are dealing only with analogies, and that it is dangerous, not only with men but also with concepts, to drag them out of the region where they originated and have matured. The diagnosis of collective neuroses, moreover, will be confronted by a special difficulty. In the neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting point the contrast presented to us between the patient and his environment which we assume to be normal. No such background as this would be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to be supplied in some other way. And with regard to any therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most acute analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses power to compel the community to adopt the therapy? In spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon this research into the pathology of civilized communities. [p. 39](Civilization and Its Discontents, S. Freud, 1929, emphasis added). Those who followed Freud in that field did not bring his vision to fruition.
Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature
to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this——hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension. [p. 40]
Thus, a statement by Friedrich Nietzsche has come to fruition: “Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”
II. Some Reference Material
To analyze this situation (in terms of how could a civilization, which is considered by itself to be the most advanced in human history, allow such an eventuality), I will reference some helpful and easy-to-obtain material.
One book I will use for reference is The Authoritarians, PDF, by Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba.
Another primary source, an article that sheds light on the subject is: Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser.
III. The Stage
Scientists have been warning officials for over a century about the dangers inherent in damaging the global climate system (The Exceptional American Denial).
Their warnings have been, and still are, about how the use of fossil fuels, products of the international oil industry, have been causing, and will continue to cause, the Earth to warm then heat up to the point of catastrophe.
Officials have consistently ignored those warnings to the point that catastrophic events are quite frequent now (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
IV. The Task at Hand For This Post
The task for today's post is to grab hold of, and then take a look at, the dynamics influencing and controlling officials, and the dynamics influencing and controlling the citizenry.
That will entail three events: 1) separating the bad from the good, 2) weighing the good and the bad, and 3) noting the difference in "Stockholm Syndrome" sufferers as being only a matter of degree, that distinguishes them from general "authoritarian followers."
V. The Personalities and Players
The following descriptions come from the book "The Authoritarians", and are identified by a page number following the description.
But first, note this information about the degree to which each personality type has been studied:
"We know an awful lot about authoritarian followers. In one way or another, hundreds of social scientists have studied them since World War II. We have a pretty good idea of who they are, where they come from, and what makes them tick. By comparison, we know little about authoritarian leaders because we only recently started studying them. That may seem strange, but how hard is it to figure out why someone would like to have massive amounts of power? The psychological mystery has always been, why would someone prefer a dictatorship to freedom? So social scientists have focused on the followers, who are seen as the main, underlying problem."(p. 2, emphasis added). You can see that knowing more about the least powerful, while knowing less about the most powerful, is problematic (About Toxins Of Power).
A. Authoritarian Followers
The authoritarian followers are not necessarily average working class or middle class citizens.
More likely, they are officials who just want to get their pay check and avoid any and all trouble:
"Authoritarian followers usually support the established authorities in their society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders. Such people have historically been the “proper” authorities in life, the time-honored, entitled, customary leaders, and that means a lot to most authoritarians.(p. 9). The key for understanding authoritarian followers is that they have a strong desire not to "rock the boat" in whatever social situation they inhabit.
Psychologically these followers have personalities featuring:
1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;... he’s someone who readily submits to the established authorities in society, attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional. It’s an aspect of his personality, not a description of his politics."
2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3) a high level of conventionalism.
B. Authoritarian Leaders
You can't have a follower until you first have a leader to follow.
Thus, if we want to get to the core problem with authoritarianism, we must go to and deal with the authoritarian leaders:
"The “soundness” of their [authoritarian leaders] thinking hardly means you can believe them, however. They are quite capable of saying whatever will get them ahead. After all, they hold that there’s no such thing as “right” and “wrong.” It all boils down to what you can get away with. And one of the most useful skills a person should develop, they say, is how to look someone straight in the eye and lie convincingly."(p. 170, emphasis added). In Eastern thought, where Daoism / Taoism variants are more abundant, the same holds true in yin/yang subgroups:
"In Daoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole." (Yin and Yang)Thus, we see that the two work as a sort of self-reinforcing whole, which can make them more difficult to distinguish.
"Shame and guilt are illusions" (Taoism and Guilt or Shame)
I want the authoritarianism phenomenon to be envisioned, in the context of this post, by using the concept of "epigovernment" as authoritarian leader and the concept of "government" as authoritarian follower (Epigovernment: The New Model - 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).
So, we can see how this dynamic works hand and glove, and in the tradition of [Toxins of Power] blog, that dynamic would have been engendered by some power toxin that operates within the confines of power to cause some initial corruption that eventually grew like a cancer.
It is important to remember that authoritarianism is also a mutual dynamic, built of both parts like yin and yang, leader and follower:
"Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want -- which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal."(p. 2, emphasis added). That takes place at an early stage of the evolution of the tyranny, but it eventually evolves into "if I want your opinion I will beat it out of you."
Whatever the power toxin is, which causes that evolutionary leap of lapse in judgment, the antidote available all along the way is well known.
That antidote is essential to democracy all along the way, and is called "accountability" (When Accountability Is A Plague, 2, 3).
D. Stockholm Syndrome Sufferers
The Stockholm Syndrome is next, which in my mind at this time is just an extreme degree of the authoritarian follower described earlier:
"On August 23rd, 1973 two machine-gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees “The party has just begun!” The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28th.(Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser). Those authoritarian followers, who merely lick the boots of authoritarian leaders, go all "Stockholm Syndrome on steroids" on us at times.
After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, it was clear that they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue. The hostages had begun to feel the captors were actually protecting them from the police. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to aid in their criminal defense fees. Clearly, the hostages had “bonded” emotionally with their captors.
While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as “Stockholm Syndrome” due to the publicity, the emotional “bonding” with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations such as:
In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The “Stockholm Syndrome” reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages."
- Abused Children
- Battered/Abused Women
- Prisoners of War
- Cult Members
- Incest Victims
- Criminal Hostage Situations
- Concentration Camp Prisoners
- Controlling/Intimidating Relationships
Note that Stockholm Syndrome does not work as a survival mechanism in the context of climate change.
In fact, it works toward the opposite result, the absence of survival (a.k.a. extinction).
VI. The Creator of Climate Change: Oil-Qaeda
A. The Precursor to Oil-Qaeda
For the context of this post, one of the notable dynamics of culture, which the industrial revolution (that began circa 1750) fostered, was a resurgent and growing trust of business on the part of government officials.
Whiz-bang gadgetry and industrial prowess promised many a commodity which were carte blanche perceived of as bricks with which to build a better lifestyle.
This unfortunately broke down some social barriers that certainly should not have been taken down, accountability being one of them.
The old adage of governance "the king can do no wrong" had been rejected in the revolution whereby the United States came into being (Sovereign Immunity Source: Toxins of Power?).
Independence, and the resistance to the wrongs of the king, was the result of rejecting "the king can do no wrong" (The Unanimous Declaration, Independence From What, 2).
Independence was also a rejection of authoritarianism, especially the configuration that works within the mold of feudalism (American Feudalism, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
B. The Flip Flop
A new philosophy eventually developed during the new industrial revolution, a philosophy that was "secretly" growing, but it was a philosophy that was the opposite direction from the aforementioned sentiments of the revolution.
The American political revolution had rejected the notion that "the king can do no wrong", replacing it with "the people can do no wrong."
Nevertheless, the industrial revolution began to engender sentiments that would replace "the king" with a neo-feudal type of neo-plutocracy (Plutocracy).
It manifested as a "collective king" which was composed of "those who know best."
It was well hidden "in plain site" in some senses, but was also unabashedly proclaimed publicly in a 1928 American book:
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.(Propaganda, by Edward L. Bernays, emphasis added). If you don't know about Bernays, you can't know about American history (Video About Bernays).
Edward L. Bernays
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.
Eventually, the propaganda industry (public relations, PR "spin") became the mouthpiece of authoritarian leaders and followers.
That propaganda industry was the way to interface with the growing consumer society, the public.
That new PR business was great for both the authoritarian leaders and the authoritarian followers, and it is still a vast and wealthy business today (The Deceit Business).
C. Oil-Qaeda Forever To The Rescue
By the time of WW II, Oil-Qaeda had inexorably risen to become a new offspring swaddled in the arms of the state:
John D. Rockefeller, in his 1909 Random Reminiscences of Men and Events, recalled, "One of our greatest helpers has been the State Department. Our ambassadors and ministers and consuls have aided to push our way into new markets in the utmost corners of the world." But he left out a key explanation for the government's interest. Standard Oil was the biggest U.S. company, putting a hundred ships to sea, buying and selling oil in Latin America, Germany, and the Far East. It also operated a global intelligence system. "By 1885," according to one historian, "seventy percent of the Standard's business was overseas and it had its own network of agents through the world, and its own espionage service, to forestall the initiatives of rival companies or governments."(American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of ..., emphasis added). By way of its mouthpieces in the propaganda industry, Oil-Qaeda eventually firmly implanted itself into the soul of western culture and civilization.
It was religiously done in a way we can clearly still see working today:
"The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells or metal mines."(As We Go Marching, by John T. Flynn, 1944, p. 222, emphasis added). Yes, we are still "always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate" that mid-eastern "enemy aggressor [that] is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism," and we still blunder "accidentally into their oil wells."
The scene of all that barbarism, which our mission regenerates, is in the middle east where most of "our oil" was considered to be in those days:
"Long before politicians mewled helplessly about the power of “Big Oil”, carbon-based fuels were shaping our very political, legal, intellectual, and physical structures.The middle east right now, in the gulf between Iran on one shore, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the other shore, has armies, navies, and air forces marshalled.
For instance, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a pivotal moment in America’s strategic outlook. America, a global hegemon whose empire was weakening, seized the second largest oil deposits in the world as a way of preventing its economic and political decline.
The last declining global hegemon, Great Britain, also engaged in a brutal and highly controversial British occupation of Iraq, in the 1920s, pressed aggressively by the well-known British conservative, Winston Churchill." - (Book Review of "Carbon Democracy", emphasis added)
"From the moment he arrived at the Admiralty, a young man of destiny, Churchill started to prepare the fleet for the Battle of Armageddon he believed was inevitable." - (John McCain's Book About Churchill, emphasis added)
"Then, in 1911, the German Kaiser provoked the Agadir crisis ... Churchill went to the Admiralty and his outlook transformed. He was immediately confronted with the decisive question: to convert the navy from coal to oil ... the "fateful plunge" was made ... in April 1912 ... five oil-burning battleships were approved.
Britain was well supplied with coal [but not oil]. It was the Royal Navy which was the impetus for the development of the oil industry in Britain. The problem was supply and the security of that supply. Initially, the British government purchased shares in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, subsequently, British Petroleum [BP]." - (Winston S. Churchill, by Eugene L. Rasor, p. 157-58)
"Then, to prevent further disruptions, Britain enmeshed itself ever more deeply in the Middle East, working to install new shahs in Iran and carve Iraq out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire.
Churchill fired the starting gun, but all of the Western powers joined the race to control Middle Eastern oil." (What If We Never Run Out of Oil, emphasis added)
Those marshalled military entities have enough fire-power to destroy human civilization several times over.
In other words, more than at any other time in history:
The 5th Fleet together with troops are in the Middle East where there is lots of oil.(The Fleets and Terrorism Follow The Oil). The Private Empire (a.k.a. Oil-Qaeda) has surgically inserted itself into American cultural DNA, like the HIV virus does to an individual's DNA.
The 4th Fleet has been reactivated after 58 years of being moth balled, and has been sent to Central / South America where there is also lots of oil.
A website of the federal government tells us:
"Oil is the lifeblood of America’s economy."(Department of Energy [they removed it, so here is The Wayback Machine copy of that page: Department of Energy]). Which is the same thing as saying you are economically dead without your blood, your oil.
The struggle for economic life then, would be the struggle for oil would it not?
After inserting itself with skilful nano-surgery, the enemy virus is seen as part of its victim (MOMCOM: The Private Parts, 2, 3, 4, 5).
D. The Addiction That Oil-Qaeda Masterminded
Our culture is now a war-for-oil culture (a Wartocracy), busy at work in over a thousand military bases around the world (MOMCOM: A Mean Welfare Queen).
Whereby they are converting "the enemy aggressor" that is always "pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism", so that our culture can always be "moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells or metal mines" (ibid, from the book "As We Go Marching").
Consequently, a recent president, firmly implanted within Oil-Qaeda, unabashedly proclaimed that "we" are addicted to oil (Glorious Addictions - War & Oil, 2).
VII. How Do You Feel About Oil-Qaeda?
Are you an authoritarian leader, authoritarian follower, Stockholm syndrome sufferer, or a healthy citizen who wants Oil-Qaeda brought to justice?
There are movements around the world that see the need for justice, the need for accountability, to be applied to Oil-Qaeda:
Top lawyers put fossil fuel bosses on trial in the UK's supreme court in a mock case to explore the crime of ecocide - environmental destruction - which is being considered by the UN ... It's a grim list: genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression (such as unprovoked invasions) and war crimes. All are recognised by the UN as crimes against peace and prosecuted through the international criminal court.(Is 'Insanity' A Valid Defense To Ecocide?, emphasis addedl cf. 2, 3). Should we not do that but rather follow the beliefs of Oil-Qaeda and Yin Yang, and believe that both "shame and guilt are illusions"?
But should the bosses of polluting companies and the leaders of environmentally-unfriendly states join those responsible for mass murder in the dock. They could if a fifth crime against peace - ecocide - joined that list of human evils? The United Nations is now considering the proposal and the first test of how a prosecution for ecocide would work takes place on Friday, with fossil fuel bosses in the dock at the UK supreme court in London. It is a mock trial of course, but with real top-flight lawyers and judges and a jury made up of members of the public. The corporate CEOs will be played by actors briefed by their legal teams.
Global warming induced climate change is not a victimless dynamic.
All of human civilization and non-human species are endangered (MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).
Endangered by what Oil-Qaeda has deliberately done, and then lied about it over the past century or so:
Internal fossil fuel industry memos reveal decades of disinformation — a deliberate campaign to deceive the public that continues even today.(Union of Concerned Scientists: The climate deception dossiers). The first sentence in that quote contains the statement "a deliberate campaign to deceive the public that continues even today."
For nearly three decades, many of the world's largest fossil fuel companies have knowingly worked to deceive the public about the realities and risks of climate change.
Their deceptive tactics are now highlighted in this set of seven "deception dossiers"—collections of internal company and trade association documents that have either been leaked to the public, come to light through lawsuits, or been disclosed through Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests.
Each collection provides an illuminating inside look at this coordinated campaign of deception, an effort underwritten by ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell, Peabody Energy, and other members of the fossil fuel industry.
That statement is bolstered by very recent evaluations of some of the pseudo-science which they fund (Learning from mistakes in climate research, PDF).
Take time to think about whether or not "king Oil-Qaeda" can do no wrong (You Are Here - 5).
The next post in this series is here.
This was originally posted at Toxins of Power Blog (and modified some here).
Everybody Knows, by Leonard Cohen (lyrics here):